FinGeo Virtual Series - How Abu Dhabi Came To Manchester: Soft Power Enclaves And Sharp Power Conduits In The Manchester Life Build-To-Rent Joint Venture.

20 December 2022 to 20 December 2022

The Global Network on Financial Geography (FinGeo) Virtual Seminar Series in 2022. More information will be available soon for the September-December sessions. The seminars will take place online, and we look forward to stimulating discussion with presenters and attendees from different parts of the world.
We have a great line-up of speakers across career stages and covering different topics on money and finance in the coming months.

Gulf states face an existential threat from efforts to decarbonise the global economy and minimise the effects of the climate crisis. For their ruling elites, there is a pressing need to diversify out of oil and their domestic economy in order to protect their accrued wealth and maintain their regime. In some UK cities, this impetus has been experienced as an inflow of overseas state capital into property assets, profoundly reshaping the local urban development process. Yet this process has not been entirely smooth – in many cases the global image of these cities rests on their perceived reputation as an open, progressive and tolerant place which can incur reputational costs when they are too closely associated with regimes whose human rights record is poor. How do authoritarian regimes organise their investments in cities that market themselves as liberal bastions? The paper explores this dilemma through a case study of Manchester Life - a £350m public-private Build to Rent residential property joint venture between Manchester City Council (UK) and the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), a private equity group with close ties to the ruling family of Abu Dhabi. Using corporate network mapping and accounting analysis, we trace the spatial network of legal entities involved in the deal, as well as the financial flows across jurisdictions. Our study reveals how, initially, ADUG’s financial investments into sporting and cultural assets reduced reputational concerns locally and helped build a ‘soft power enclave’. This provided the platform for an extensive programme of residential real estate development, managed aggressively for margin. We chart the flows of finance into Manchester via entities located in the secrecy jurisdiction of Jersey, the organisation of entities within Manchester which limited or ‘dammed’ financial outflows to the council partner and the national exchequer, and the rental flows back to Abu Dhabi through Jersey. We argue that tax havens, in this context, operate as sharp power conduits within a financial network – facilitating Gulf elite interests whilst preventing local public scrutiny and accountability around the extent of the profits extracted. The paper critically contributes to both the financial geography of real estate investment, the financialisation of Built-to-Rent assets and recent state capitalist research. We show that the state, far from being monolithic, is hybridising - becoming something more protean and mobile to facilitate its financial reach into global real estate markets. We focus in particular on the incorporation of private sector actors within the decision-making apparatus of the state and its adjacent entities who strategically manage the expansion of Gulf state real estate investment.



Travel Discounts

No hotels have been associated with this event.